Watch as Canadian freighter narrowly misses sailboat on St. Clair River

Hani Barghouthi
The Detroit News

A freighter narrowly missed colliding with a sailboat carrying at least four people on Sunday on the St. Clair River in Port Huron, a video shows. 

The Cuyahoga, 604-foot Canadian bulk carrier blasted its whistle five times as it turned when it became apparent the sailboat would be in its way. 

Five short blasts indicate that a vessel, the freighter in this case, does not understand the intentions of another nearby vessel, according to the Amalgamated International & U.S. Inland Navigational Rules. The vessel may also be "in doubt whether sufficient action is being taken by the other to avoid collision."

The video shows the sailboat crew working quickly to try and avoid the vessel, which continues to issue short warning sounds from its horn until the two narrowly avoid a collision. 

Petty Officer Greg Schell of the U.S. Coast Guard Ninth District said that it is usually the smaller vessel, like a motorboat or a sailboat, that is expected to change course when a collision is imminent. 

"Traditionally, the smaller vessels would give way to the larger vessels," said Schell. "Especially with freighters, because they’re so big and can’t make tight maneuvers in short periods of time like a small vessel would be able to do."

The freighter, built in 1943, according to Vesselfinder, was headed to Windsor, Ontario, before arriving at 6:29 p.m. Tuesday in Toledo. 

"The Coast Guard recommends that all boaters familiarize themselves with navigational rules of the road, and to understand that just because you might see a boater, that boater doesn’t always see you," added Schell.